spuds creep into markets
Part of a huge consignment of potatoes declared unfit for consumption
by the Customs had been smuggled out and dumped this week by the
side of the proposed Katunayake Expressway, from where they are
now making their way to the markets.
"These potatoes initially imported as seed potatoes had been
declared unfit for consumption after the Customs called for reports
from the Agriculture Depar-tment" a senior Customs officer
had not cleared the potatoes as the consignee had allegedly imported
the stock as seed potatoes. The stock of potatoes which had been
at the Colombo port for more than three months had been smuggled
out last week and dumped by the wayside within the Peliyagoda Urban
three 40 ft. container loads weighing about 80 tons of rotten potatoes
which had been dumped on the wayside were being sorted out by residents
in the area. The Sunday Times investigations revealed that some
of these potatoes had been sent to the Manning market in Pettah.
Early on Tuesday
morning Peliyagoda Urban Council chairman Nihal Ananda who had received
a tip-off of this alleged racket had rushed immediately to the place
where the potatoes had been dumped ."When I arrived at the
site I found nothing but a mountain of rotten potatoes and when
I questioned the residents they said that they had been brought
in three huge containers accompanied by about twenty five armed
men" he said.
Customs officials say that they still can't find out how the containers
got out of the port. They also claim that there is a huge racket
in which Ports, Health Department, Agriculture Department and even
Customs officials are involved.
A Customs official
who did not want to be identified told The Sunday Times, "we
destroyed 12 of the 25 container loads ourselves and even the rest
will be destroyed by us, but now we are facing death threats from
a group who usually do the destroying and also seem to be taking
parallel steps to spoil our reputations".
had been made following an alleged attack on the officials by the
underworld group said to be led by a highly influential man with
Meanwhile the underworld leader reportedly believed to be the one
behind the racket had gone to the Customs office pretending to be
an honest man. He is said to have shown photographs of the potatoes
being dumped and had shown a willingness to supply to police registration
numbers of vehicles involved in the racket.
must renounce violence before ban is lifted:US
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ms. Christina Rocca has declared
that although the LTTE has renounced their concept of a "Tamil
Ealam" they should also "renounce violence in word and
deed" in order to be removed from the US list of proscribed
Ms. Rocco made
these observations when she testified at a hearing of the House
of Representatives International Relations Committee's Sub-committee
on Asia and the Pacific on Thursday. She made this declaration in
response to a question posed by Brad Sherman (Democratic representative
for California) whether there was a possibility that the LTTE would
be removed from the US list of proscribed terrorist organizations
in the event the peace process ends successfully.
Ms. Rocco praised
the Sri Lanka Government and the LTTE for "having made significant
progress toward a political solution that protects the dignity and
security of all Sri Lankans and the country's unity".
regret that the LTTE was still acquiring weapons but added that
the US was committed to helping the Government of Sri Lanka achieve
a peaceful settlement. The hearing on "The US and South Asia:
Challenges and Opportunities for American Policy" was chaired
by James A. Leach (Republican representative for Iowa) and Chairman
of the Sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific.
Mr. Leach said
that US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is extending
his fullest support towards the peace process. Responding to a question
posed by the Chairman of the Sub-committee whether the Peace Corps
would return to Sri Lanka, Ms. Rocca replied that a security assessment
team from the Peace Corps visited Sri Lanka recently and a decision
would be taken in this regard when they submit their report.
Government elections to be held in uncleared areas shortly - PM
By Laila Nasry
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday that Local Government
elections would be held in uncleared areas shortly now that the
LTTE has expressed their willingness to cooperate with the Government
in this regard.
The Prime Minister
made this statement at the induction ceremony of the newly-elected
President of the Bar Association. President's Counsel Ananda Wijesekera
said this was one of the important developments in the peace negotiations
concluded on Friday in Hakone, Japan.
issues concerning the granting of powers to the Election Commissioner
and the holding of elections on a single day need to be discussed
further," he said.
The other major
development with regard to the peace process is that the government
has had meaningful discussions with the LTTE on the problems faced
by the Muslims in the north-east region.
The Prime Minister
stated that the final legal framework for a lasting political solution
would revolve around devolution of power. "Devolution of power
is not the only answer but certainly a key to success in the peace
process. But with it there should be equality and the upholding
of the rights of the people," the Prime Minister said.
With the LTTE
willing to consider a federal system, which would ensure their right
to self-determination, the Prime Minister said that the government
hopes to send parliamentarians to study the system of devolution
and autonomy practised in different countries.
The Prime Minister
further referred to a number of legislative initiatives the government
hopes to implement in the near future namely the Citizens' Charter
and the Freedom of Information Act.
Sarath N. Silva speaking at the ceremony stated that both the Bench
and the Bar could collectively take pride in the fact that the institutions
administering justice have survived and are fully functional throughout
the length and breadth of the country with the exception of the
Magistrate's Court in Killinochchi and Mullativu. He added that
this is an indication of the confidence the people have placed in
the legal system.
cut to continue despite rain
The daily three-hour water cuts in some parts of the city and suburbs
will continue despite the heavy rains in recent days, an official
The Water Board's
Additional General Manager Ananda de Silva said the three main reservoirs
were still below accepted levels despite the rain and the water
cut would continue though it would not be increased beyond three
officials said the present rains were inter-monsoonal showers with
the full monsoon being expected by May.
war : Hobson’s choice for television viewers
The average Sri Lankan public were at the mercy of watching the
war against Iraq on television only via Dynavision which broadcast
footage from the US agency CNN, whose journalists were asked to
leave Iraq on Friday night.
The only other
international news agency providing news on the war to local viewers
is BBC World through news clippings on MTV. State run Rupavahini
and ITN were providing news clippings from CNN and BBC.
move for Rupavahini to sign a deal with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera
television agency which is reported to have close contact with the
Al-Quiaeda movement and is well regarded in the Arab world has not
materialised, official sources said.
chief Dr. Ganganath Dissanayake and ITN head Gyrika Perusigne said
they had no plans for such agreement.
ETV which was earlier telecasting UK-based Skynews reports is re-negotiating
terms and not broadcasting its news programmes.